SA leads quest for US-Africa trade opportunities – Rob Davies

2014-08-01 08:15

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says South Africa has been at the root of exploring trade opportunities between the United States and Africa.

Davies arrived in Washington yesterday for the inter-ministerial Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) meeting and US-Africa Leadership Summit. “We’ve been the root of exploring the free trade area with the US ... and that is a point which is important,” he said.

“When we talk about any trade negotiations they [are] not just South Africa ... they involve least developed countries, [and] small vulnerable economies.”

Agoa was a non-reciprocal preferential scheme, which applies only to United States imports from eligible Sub-Saharan Africa countries, including South Africa.

It was signed into law on May 18 2000.

During the summit, South Africa will have to argue why it should remain in the Agoa and advocate for the renewal of the act.

Earlier this week, Davies said South Africa wanted the US Congress, who will make the decision regarding the Agoa, to renew it for another 15 years, as this would help investor confidence.

Davies said the country had a strong case despite some believing it did not.

“There’s a hearing for it in important circles of the United States.

“But there are a couple of voices here and there that are complaining about this or that and saying we should be phased out,” he said.

During the visit, the South African delegation, led by President Jacob Zuma, will meet with members of the US Congress, the administration and business.

Davies could not say whether the five-month long strike on the North West platinum belt or the more recent four-week metals and engineering strike would have an effect on investor confidence.

“We’ll have to see, sometimes they are concerned.

“We’ve had one extraordinary strike, which is the strike in the platinum sector. Not every strike is like that.”

Davies said more value needed to be added to platinum as a product.

His department was currently involved with provinces on two platinum based beneficiation processes which would add value. This was in the form of jewellery, automotive catalytic converters and fuel cell technology.

»Flight and hotel costs for Sapa’s reporter covering the summit were paid by the presidency.

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